Hockey shines in sweep over Bradley


Donald Crocker

Senior defenseman Michael Helf scores one of his two goals against Bradley during Friday night’s 9-5 victory.

DePaul men’s hockey had a strong start to their season after defeating Bradley with a clean two-game sweep. The Blue Demons offense erupted for 13 goals in their opening weekend series led by senior defenseman Michael Helf and junior defenseman Chris Lee, each scoring two goals.

“I think that we showed that we are capable of a lot of great things,” assistant coach Oliver Freij said. “We obviously score a lot of goals and have good depth this year but also showed that we’re taking way too many penalties. Overall, we showed a lot of promise and this group is really strong.”

DePaul won Friday night’s game against Bradley by a score of 9-5 in a one-sided matchup at Johnny’s IceHouse. The Blue Demons scored seven unanswered goals in the first two periods, which ultimately decided the game.

The first period of the game was full of offense. Bradley scored the first goal within minutes of the opening faceoff, but DePaul struck back after Chris Lee scored and tied up the game at 12:13.

The Blue Demons offense controlled the entire second period, scoring four goals by four different players. DePaul scored three of their four goals within a three-minute span, which were recorded by defenseman Michael Helf  (12:13), center Jackson Leptish (10:46) and sophomore winger Matt Newton (9:46)

“I just shot it, to be honest,” Helf said about his two-goal night. “I probably should’ve buried a few more, but what are you gonna do? As long as we keep moving our feet, they’re not going to beat us.”

The third period of the game was all Bradley, but they proved to be too little, too late. Bradley scored three goals against junior goalie Asher Motew after he only allowed two goals prior to the period. Luckily for the Blue Demons, DePaul had a comfortable lead.

“That’s not on our goalie, Asher [Motew] was excellent,” Freij said about Motew’s third period performance. “I think there was only a two shot difference in the game and they had a lot of quality chances, but Asher was great tonight. ”

Anytime a goalie allows five goals in a game, it wouldn’t be seen as an encouraging performance, but Friday’s game was like no other due to an offensive explosion from the Blue Demons. Both teams combined for nearly 60 shots on goal, and Motew was lights out during the first two periods.

“I thought overall I had a good game,” said Motew. “At the end of the day, when we take 13 penalties, you’re gonna get a little tired, but over the scheme of things, when you’re up by that much, sometimes [goalies] just check out.”

The Blue Demons were able to secure a win on Saturday in a closer matchup after defeating Bradley in a close 4-1 game. Up 2-1 in the final minutes of the game, DePaul tacked on two late game-sealing goals once Bradley pulled their goalie.

“I think it’s a learning experience because we came out flying yesterday,” senior goalie A.J. Grzbek said. “This is the type of game you need early on in the season, so it doesn’t happen later. You smoke them game one and go into game two thinking you’ll do it again and then they come out flying, and next thing you know, you’re tied heading into the third period.” 

Junior Winger Billy Paschen skating up the ice against Bradley during Saturday’s 4-1 victory. (Donald Crocker)

Bradley, similar to Friday night, got out ahead against DePaul on Saturday after scoring a power play goal at the 9:48 mark to take a 1-0 lead. The Blue Demons were shut out in the first period after scoring four goals in period one the night before.

DePaul struck back early in the second period when senior winger Brock Ash scored the tying goal at the 18:59 minute, assisted by sophomore winger Danny Mannarino. 

A majority of the action took place in the third period. The Blue Demons were able to take advantage of a power play, and junior winger Billy Paschen scored the go-ahead goal at the 11:19 minute. 

The Blue Demons landed 22 shots on goal compared to Bradley’s 12, and goalie A.J. Grzbek only allowed one goal in 60 minutes of ice time, playing a key role in DePaul’s opening series win.

DePaul (2-0) will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 23 at Johnny’s Ice Rink West against Northern Illinois at  3:30 p.m. CDT.   

Connect with Tom Gorski: @ThomasGorski33 | [email protected]